Jon and Edith publish in Nature Communications


Congratulations to Jon, Edith and the rest of the team involved in the pleuromutilin project, for their latest publication in Nature Communications.

In this work, the biosynthesis of the important antibiotic pleuromutilin produced by Clitopilus passeckerianus (above) was recreated in Aspergillus oryzae, allowing details of the biosynthetic pathway to be determined, and pleuromutilin derivatives with increased antibiotic activity to be produced by bio-conversion of chemically modified analogues of pleuromutilin intermediates.

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Maddie joins from the CDT for RBS 2

MaddieThe 2017 cohort of the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT have moved onto their second rotation, and so Maddie has joined our lab for the next 8 weeks. She completed her first rotation with the Bedford group.

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Well done Hanim!

Congratulations to our new Dr Hanim, who passed her PhD viva today, defending her thesis entitled “Synthetic and Biosynthetic Studies on the Mupirocin Antibiotic”.


Hanim celebrated with an ice cream cake, which seemed entirely appropriate!

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New members of the Willis group for 2017-18

As the new academic year kicks off, the Willis lab is suddenly a busier place thanks to an influx of new PhD and Masters students.

In the first category, Angus Weir decided that a Master’s project simply wasn’t long enough with the Willis group, so has returned to start a PhD. From the Chemical Synthesis CDT, Sbu Mbatha joins us for her first of three lab rotations.

We also have 4 new MChem students, Emyr Tayler, Sam Howard, Jenny Anderson and Adam Wdowiak. Each will be working on a different project linked to the research themes of our group.

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Dr Lisa graduates

After passing her PhD viva in January, Lisa Recnik returned to Bristol to graduate. Here she is in her ‘subtle’ graduation robes:

Lisa graduation.jpg

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2017 BCS CDT Conference: Prizes for Joe & Beth!

The Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT Summer Conference was held recently, with strong representation from the Willis group. On the first day we saw presentations from the 2016 cohort, outlining the projects they had chosen for their PhD, and some preliminary results. Joe (supervised by Chris), Beth and Hannah (both co-supervised by Chris and Kevin Booker-Milburn) all gave excellent presentations.

On the second day, David and Paul gave updates on the progress of their PhD projects, 2 years in. This was accompanied by a wide breadth of excellent science from the rest of the 2014 cohort. Alongside this, the 2013 cohort (including our own Nick and Dan) presented posters at a lively poster session.

Big congratulations to Joe and Beth, who shared the Loes Hendrickx prize for the best performance over the initial PACT training period of their PhDs.

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Joe joins from the Chemical Synthesis CDT

joe-barkerAfter completing the PACT period of the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT, Joe Barker has now joined the Willis group for the remainder of his PhD studies. Joe graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, spending his final year in the group of Professor Jeremy Robertson. Joe will be investigating the biomimetic total synthesis of polyketide natural products.

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